, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 29 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Narc Kenya Chairperson Martha Karua have clashed in Parliament over the issue of leadership integrity for Ministers and Members of Parliament.
Ms Karua had accused the President and Prime Minister of appointing Ministers who had pending court cases against the provisions of the new Constitution that bar such officers from holding public office.
However, Mr Odinga challenged Ms Karua to show proof of convictions and went further to argue that it was the responsibility of political parties to vet candidates before allowing them to vie for public office.
“Mr Prime Minister is it that you are not aware that the Minister for Higher Education is facing criminal charges in court?” posed Ms Karua.
The PM said in his response, “Lets us not cast aspersions and try to look at only one side. Are we not tying to see the log in our own eyes?”
“When a political party is sponsoring a member with a questionable past and conduct, that political party is complacent in compromising Chapter six of the new Constitution because this was done when the new constitution was in effect” he added.
The PM said the Interim Independent Electoral Commission had stated that each political party should bear the responsibility of scrutinising the history of its candidates and ensure they pass the credibility test.
Ms Karua however interjected the PM and demanded that he clearly state which party he was referring to. The Speaker however intervened and directed the PM not to respond.
However Ms Karua could not let go without a fight and was emphatic that the Executive was breaking the law.
“I’m aware the Cabinet has people who are being investigated of criminal acts. What are these people doing in Cabinet?
While giving his weekly briefing to the House, the Premier urged Parliament to set aside partisan politics and join hands in the implementation of the new Constitution.
He assured MPs that they shall participate in the restructuring of the provincial administration. Mr Odinga told Parliament that a Bill would be tabled to clearly stipulate the new structure of government.
Mr Odinga emphasised that the government would adhere to the requirements of article 10 of the new Constitution that requires exclusivity and wide consultations in governance.
In the meantime the government defended Ministers who were still holding onto party positions saying they were not acting against the new Constitution since they double up as elected and appointed State officers.
Mr Odinga told Parliament that current Ministers are not affected by the provision of the new Constitution that bars appointed officers from party politics since they are also elected MPs. He said the provision will apply to the next government when Ministers will not be MPs.
“The interpretation of the Attorney General is that the current Ministers are politicians who are elected as MPs. They are not just appointed,” he said.
Yatta MP Charles Kilonzo however questioned this interpretation saying this provision also applied to the current Ministers.
“That is an opinion of an AG which is not cast in stone. If you move to the High court the interpretation may be different,” he argued.